I'm interested to hear people's opinions on this. I have a friend who believes that loving a person (of the opposite sex) is something which happens only as a chemical reaction which results from being intimate with someone.
I'm not sure what I believe but this view reminds me of Iago's comment about love in Othello 'a lust of the blood and a permission of the will'
And it would assume that you can't love someone until you've had sex -- so where does that leave people who wait until they are married?
Sorry, I know it's a bit deep but I'm just wondering what people think generally.
I don't believe in the spiritual side, but it need not be (and isn't always) just triggered by physical intimacy. People have fallen in love from a distance. More so since the internet since you could spend many hours a day working with someone using conference calls/webcams and get to know them very well.
So I see it as an unconscious process selected by evolution to keep a couple together while they bring up children. Some part of your brain weighing them up as potential mates.
Some see that as a bit cold, but it's just as impressive and wonderful as cupids arrows.
I don't think it makes sense to say something is either real or just chemicals. Pain is real, and it is just electrical impulses (and some chemicals). The fact that we experience something in a way which involves chemicals, hormones, electrical impulses, etc, doesn't stop it from being real and important.
It certainly doesn't require sex, although physical contact of all kinds can trigger hormones which strengthen the feelings.
As far as evolution goes, for animals where two parents are required to successfully raise offspring, evolution has often selected for a "pair bond" between the parents, which is a set of reactions which makes them "want" to stay together.
But I think humans have an added factor, since they have self-awareness, which means they are conscious of the choices they make - so their "emotional" choices can have elements which are about more than their own benefit, or the effects of evolution.